/Battles on the Border: Comic Book Artists Conquer A New Frontier

Battles on the Border: Comic Book Artists Conquer A New Frontier

By Michael Galindo

Most people have heard of comic book or graphic novel heroes such as Wolverine, Batman, Superman or the Green Lantern, but many others have probably never heard of Dallas Stoudenmire, Gabriel de La Cruz, Leopold Curtis or Matt Cuba.

If you haven’t, it’s because they are all comic book characters from comic book enthusiasts who live and work in El Paso. They have developed characters who are dealing with borderland history or present-day issues that affect the region.

One of these enthusiasts is Jaime “Jimmy” Portillo, founder of Jimmy Daze Comics. One of his first works, which dealt with the borderland, was titled “Gabriel.” It is a graphic novel based on a vampire with a thirst for blood who is on a rampage in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He says that he created this novel to bring about awareness that women are being raped and murdered just across the river in our sister city.

“When I was in the Marines in the ‘90s, I would tell many of my friends about the things going on and many of them had never heard about it,” says Jaime.

Jaime took a different approach in how he produced his first graphic novel–instead of creating artwork for it–he used photos of actual people.  He used his own likeness to create the character of Gabriel. “I took this approach because since this was based on actual events, I felt that it would give it more of a real-life feeling to it,” he says.

His most recent work is titled “Hell Paso,” which is a comic book about Dallas Stoudenmire who was a town marshal in the early 1880s. The comic tells about his legacy in El Paso, where he was known for decreasing the crime rate and for taking part in the infamous “Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight.”

Stoudenmire, at the time, was eating at a restaurant when a confrontation began next door at a saloon. Constable Krempkau and George Campbell were fighting over Krempkaus’ relationship with Mexicans. John Hale, who was intoxicated at the time, grabbed Campbell’s gun and fired at Krempkau. Stoudenmire rushed in and began firing randomly, killing an innocent bystander. He then shot Hale between the eyes; Krempkau shot and injured Campbell, who then aimed his gun at Stoudenmire, who then shot and killed Campbell. This was a battle that witnesses said lasted only five seconds.

“I was actually doing research on another character when I came across Dallas Stoudenmire,” says Jaime. “It was then that I realized how much of an impact he had on El Paso. I felt that this was somebody that hadn’t gotten the recognition he deserved.”

Julian Lawler, comic book enthusiast and creator and founder of Broken Tree Comics, has resurrected one of his older comics called “Trouble Point.” This comic also delves into the murders and crime waves across the border and aims to bring awareness to these issues. The story is about a group of superheroes that come together in El Paso and try to deal with these problems across the border.

“When I first decided to write this comic 10 years ago, it was mostly based on the murders of women, but I also put violence and robberies into it,” says Julian. “It was kind of weird that I had foreshadowed something that ended up happening.”

Julian also established a comic convention last year in El Paso called EPCon. He wanted to initiate something within the community that hadn’t been done before. “That year there was supposed to be a comic showcase, but it didn’t happen,” says Julian. “So I wanted to do something about it, but I wasn’t sure how the community would react. So I took the initiative and went with it and everything went better than I had expected.”

Joe Lopez, a UTEP graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, is working on a graphic novel called “Deathless.” He conceived the idea for the story a while ago and began working on it with a long-time friend, Christian Atley, who is a graduate student at New Mexico State University. The novel features the adventures of an ancient tribal warrior and his friend as they travel from century to century. He will be releasing it at this year’s EPCon in September.

Although this graphic novel does not have anything to do with El Paso, Joe says he is going to include the region in subsequent issues. “I just want to include it in there because I really like this city,” Joe says. “I think growing up here was fun and I would also like to draw some of the sites in the city.”

Although Julian feels that the comic book fan base in El Paso is an untapped market, he believes that enthusiasts such as himself and the upcoming convention could change this and create a more lively and devoted audience for his and others’ creative efforts in this genre.

“If you’re not aware of something, then you’re not going to know what’s going on with that,” says Julian. “It’s through EPCon that I want to have that breakthrough.”

En Breve

Las historias de superhéroes de la frontera no son muy comunes en estos días, por eso Jaime “Jimmy” Portillo, fundador de Jimmy Comics Daze, se dio a la tarea de crear un comic llamado “Hell Paso”.

 

Su propósito fue dar a conocer a la gente un poco de la historia de El Paso, la ciudad que le vio nacer. “Yo estaba haciendo la investigación sobre otro personaje cuando me encontré con Dallas Stoudenmire”, dice Jaime. “Fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de lo mucho que impactó esta persona a El Paso”.

 

Julián Lawler, creador de Broken Tree Comics, también tenía una idea clara de lo que quería cuando le dio vida a un comic llamado”Trouble Point”. Su idea era crear conciencia sobre los asesinatos en Ciudad Juárez. “Cuando me decidí a escribir este comic hace 10 años , me basé principalmente en los asesinatos de mujeres, pero también en la violencia y los robos relacionados”, dice Julian. “Fue un poco raro que yo había presagiado algo que terminó sucediendo”.

 

Joe López, otro entusiasta de la historieta, ha creado una novela gráfica llamada “Deathless”, que narra los viajes de un antiguo guerrero y su amigo de siglo en siglo. Aunque esta novela gráfica no tenga nada que ver con El Paso, Joe dice que la región va ser incluída en los números siguientes. “Sólo quiero incluirlo porque me gusta mucho esta ciudad”, dice Joe. “Creo que crecer aquí fue muy divertido y me gustaria señalar unos sitios de la ciudad”.

 

 

 

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